Number of episodes: 26
Production Studio: Studio DEEN
Fansub Release Viewed: Aero
Likelihood of US Release: High
Season three of the Hell Girl anime, which actually contains some continuity from previous seasons.
Hell Girl and her group of helpers regroup just in time to deal with the matter of a group of schoolgirls who are unhappy with their teacher. Each time one of them does something irresponsible in class — in the most recent case, drawing a picture making fun of him — Tange-sensei makes a note of it in the small notebook he carries with him at all times. There have been rumors going around that the items he records have kept some students from being able to get into high school, so some of the students are worried. Itsuko, a girl who has been on the bad end of his retribution more than once, plots to blackmail her teacher with some incriminating photos, so she goes to her local love hotel and has her friend take the pictures. Unfortunately her parents are there to stop her, tipped off by Tange-sensei. This is the last straw, and Itsuko goes to the fateful website where she asks to take revenge on her teacher. As per the usual, she’s given the option to send her teacher to hell, but the trade off is that, when she dies, she’ll be doomed to an eternity there as well. She decides to think it over.
It doesn’t take long before Tange-sensei is back at it, confiscating her iPod when she listens to it during class. She confronts him after school, and finally calls forth Hell Girl and her assistants to take him away. Of course, the irony is that he was planning to give her the MP3 player back anyway, and the only things in his notebook of bad deeds were doodles — in short, all his threats about their transgressions going on their personal records were empty.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen anything related to Hell Girl, mainly because the episodes I saw of the first season were basically all the same, and from what I understood, most of the second season was as well. I guess I really wasn’t missing much, because this episode was just about the same as I remember the others being, with a story that’t pretty much not connected to a greater story arc at all, and heavy doses of irony that make sure the viewer realizes loud and clear that revenge is bad, especially when taken rashly. I love being whacked over the head with heavy-handed morality messages. Oh wait, no I don’t.
I can’t really comment on the continuity of the series to this point, since I saw about two episodes of the first season and none of the second, but the comment that I will make is that I think the style of the series is very striking, and I kind of wish that a more overarching plot would be introduced to incorporate that. From what little I’ve seen and heard, even the tiny bit of continuity is overwhelmed by the episodic, formulaic progression of the majority of the episodes, and for a series that has now entered its third season, I find that kind of disappointing. Truthfully, parts of the show remind me a bit of Mononoke, a series that I loved. While that series didn’t have a story that encapsulated its entire 12 episode run, each of the stories it did tell took multiple episodes to reveal, and they felt a lot less cheap that way. Perhaps Hell Girl might be more successful if it spent a little more time developing its stories and characters. Of course, what do I know, considering Mononoke was only 12 short episodes, and this series is going on 78?
The overall style of the show is really what makes me wish the quality of the writing was better. The character designs, both for this season and the previous one, were done by the same person who designed the characters for Ghost Hound, so the characters look simple and a bit unusual, though in a pleasing way. There’s some unusual visual direction, especially during what I would call the transformation sequence as Hell Girl awakens to take revenge. One especially memorable scene occurs when she possesses the body of Itsuko’s friend while she’s taking a bath. The imagery is very striking as the two bodies meld underwater. These visuals coupled with a more interesting story would make put this series near the top of my to-watch list. As it is, I might catch an episode here and there if I have time.
If the storytelling methodology of the previous seasons was your cup of tea, then I don’t see any dramatic changes here. But if you’re on the lookout for something a bit more meaty, then check out Mononoke instead and save this 78 episode monster for another time.
- The visuals are a real treat, especially during more magically-infused scenes
- It’s hard to tell that the show has been going on for so long, since the stories are as formulaic as they ever were
- Moral message is a little heavy-handed